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17 of 19 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Eastern culture diluted for Western consumption
In feudal Japan, when their Lord is bewitched & commits a crime, he is forced to perform sepppuku (ritual suicide by disembowelment) as punishment. Afterwards his loyal Samauri warriors are stripped of their titles, proclaimed Ronin (masterless Samurai) & banished from their province forbidden to return or face death. But knowing of the treachery committed upon their...
Published 7 months ago by Jules

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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Dumb, dour fantasy with CGI bells and whistles.
From the dodgy live-action comic book prologue to the patience-sapping epilogue, both boasting cheesy voiceover, Keanu Reeves' latest supposed comeback vehicle veers like an expensive car taken for a drive but with nowhere to go. It crashed and burned at the box office for obvious reasons: Like John Carter before it, 47 Ronin is without identity and thus without an...
Published 7 months ago by R. J. Lister


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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Dumb, dour fantasy with CGI bells and whistles., 22 May 2014
This review is from: 47 Ronin [DVD] [2013] [2014] (DVD)
From the dodgy live-action comic book prologue to the patience-sapping epilogue, both boasting cheesy voiceover, Keanu Reeves' latest supposed comeback vehicle veers like an expensive car taken for a drive but with nowhere to go. It crashed and burned at the box office for obvious reasons: Like John Carter before it, 47 Ronin is without identity and thus without an audience.

Reeves plays Kai, a "half-breed" born into feudal Japanese society. The natives are never shy of reminding Kai of his impure blood, though the fact that they choose to twist their vocal chords around the English language to do so kind of undermines their argument. This is a movie for people who actually appreciate being warned at the cinema counter that a film has subtitles. Don't worry, no such risk here.

Anyway, Kai is taken in by the Lord Asano (Min Tanaka), and raised to be a brooding loner, lovesick for Asano's daughter (Kou Shibasaki), Mika. However, Lord Kira (Tadanobu Asano) also fancies Mika. With the help of wonky-eyed witch Mizuki (Rinko Kikuchi), Kira devises a plot to slay Lord Asano, kidnap his daughter, and rebrand Asano's men as Ronin - dishonoured samurais without masters. Out in the wild, the Ronin, led by the headstrong Oishi (Hiroyuki Sanada), must overcome their prejudices and join forces with Kai, in order to rescue the damsel in distress.

The costumes and production design are dazzling, deserving of that extra star. The crew here have created a sumptuous world, rich in detail. Not that we get to savour it. Like David Lean working as first assistant to Brett Ratner, never has a film combined the sublime and the ridiculously cheap-looking. On top of that, it's as if the film has been edited by production committee. The pacing is lousy.

First-time director Carl Rinsch elicits poor performances from everyone concerned. This is largely because 99.9% of the cast are speaking a foreign language, and also because the script stinks: when characters aren't explicitly explaining the meaning of seppuku, or delivering limp threats ("I'm not afraid of you." / "You should be!"), they're promising love that'll last a thousand lifetimes, like there'd been a cast screening of Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon the night before. Difference is, Ang Lee made me believe it.

Who is this film for? Hard to say. Its bloodlessness will alienate Takashi Miike fans. The pointless fantasy aspects and lack of humour will bore Kurosawa classicists. It goes for the derring-do of Hook, except combined with the washed-out palette of Ridley Scott's dour Robin Hood revamp. John Carter lacked a lot, but at least it had a sense of fun. This movie, based on a grim "true story" (except for the flying worms and horned mega-fauna, presumably) takes 70 minutes to find its first stab at a joke, and even then it's about as funny as... well, mass ritual suicide. Avoid.
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17 of 19 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Eastern culture diluted for Western consumption, 13 May 2014
By 
Jules (England) - See all my reviews
(TOP 500 REVIEWER)   
This review is from: 47 Ronin [DVD] [2013] [2014] (DVD)
In feudal Japan, when their Lord is bewitched & commits a crime, he is forced to perform sepppuku (ritual suicide by disembowelment) as punishment. Afterwards his loyal Samauri warriors are stripped of their titles, proclaimed Ronin (masterless Samurai) & banished from their province forbidden to return or face death. But knowing of the treachery committed upon their Lord, they set out to revenge his death & reclaim his honor.

As with Hollywood films that are based on true stories, we usually give them the benefit of the doubt while taking it with a pinch of salt as well. The core story of the 47 Ronin was very engrossing, and they did flesh things out for Western audiences with a few sub plots, consisting of a love story, an outsider trying to earn respect & said outsider having magical powers. In the execution it gives us plenty of time to drink in the culture & visual beauty of feudal Japan which it achieves to aplomb, while they're maybe too much talking for some, it periodically throws in various action scenes to keep you sated. Some are traditional Eastern sword fights, while the CGI laden Japanese mythology & more Western influences from other Hollywood films e.g Pirates of the Caribbean etc.. are nice embellishments/distractions & obviously done to open the film up to appeal to a wider audience.

The acting was pretty good all round, Keanu Reeves (The Matrix) puts in a decent performance in a palatable co-lead role as the solemn British/Japanese 'half breed' Kai. Alongside him are a host of Japanese actors that maintain the traditional vibe of the film as they take turns together & apart in furthering parts of the story. The stand out's IMO being Hiroyuki Sanada (The Twilight Samurai) as Oishi the courageous leader of the 47 & Rinko Kikuchi (Pacific Rim) as the evil witch. The latter stole Tadanobu Asano's (Ichi The Killer) thunder as the devious Lord Kira, relegated to a lot of smirking as a result. And in a Captain Phillips fashion, newcomer Takato Yonemoto was welcome brief comedy relief in a a very sombre feeling movie as the rotund Ronin, Basho.

In conclusion, 47 Ronin was an enjoyable mixture of Western film making & an introductory experience to Japanese Feudal culture & mythology. Contains violence & mature themes. Recommended.
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69 of 78 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Massively underrated fantasy film, 11 Feb 2014
By 
D. Krol "deano76" (bradford) - See all my reviews
(TOP 1000 REVIEWER)    (REAL NAME)   
This review is from: 47 Ronin [DVD] [2013] [2014] (DVD)
***This review is for the film only***

I had heard quite a lot of mixed comments about this film, some people thought it was the film of the year, while some really disliked it, but I do like Keanu Reeves so I thought I'd give it go anyway. I'm glad that I did.

Plot: It's about a group of proud Samurai who's master is killed and dishonoured and their status is reduced to Ronin. Only for them to rise up and seek revenge against the evil ruler and his magical witch, who are responsible

This film was panned by critics and became a huge box office flop but I really can't understand why. It's high adrenaline, action packed, exciting and has some absolutely mind blowing special effects. Ok Keanu Reeves does look a little out of place in a movie full of Japanese actors, playing out a truly Japanese story, but that is easily got past. There is quite a lot of Japanese language and subtitles in the film but most of it is in English so it's not too hard to follow.

The camera work and sound in this movie are what makes it really stand out, the unknown director really did a sterling job here and really immerses you into the magical world of the Ronin.
The acting for the most part is very good too and you really do develop a kind of kinship with some of the characters, which makes you really root for them and genuinely care about their fate.

All in all 47 Ronin is a fun, exciting, way to spend a couple of hours, it's visually stunning to look at and after a slowish start, the action and fantasy never lets up. Without giving too much away, it does leave the door open for a sequel but alas, due to its poor box office performance I doubt that we will ever see one.

8/10 Very good fantasy movie, harshly panned by the critics
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Good ingredients...so-so result, 1 July 2014
A bit disappointed here. I mean you have KR (one of my fav actors), a few very good Japanese actors, a true samurai story and some fantasy (Lord of the Rings style) thrown into it ! how can you go wrong right? well, sometimes lots of good ingredients don't necessarily make a good dish.
The whole thing just doesn't add up...you don't feel a connection to the characters or the story. Hard to put my finger on it...characters seem so flat in lack of a better word. I see rottentomatoes gave a 1* rating LOL Maybe too harsh but you get the idea...
Visuals are ok and so is the HD sound.
I was expecting so much more.....maybe part II ? :-D
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars I AM LOOKING FOR A HALF BREED, 20 Jan 2014
By 
The Movie Guy "Movies from A to Z" (United States) - See all my reviews
(TOP 500 REVIEWER)   
This review is from: 47 Ronin [DVD] [2013] [2014] (DVD)
Kai (Keanu Reeves) is found in a river near Ako. He is called a half breed and is rumored to be a shape shifter. He is treated with respect by his adopted father Lord Asano(Min Tanaka) and beloved by his daughter Mika (Ko Shibasaki). He is despised by everyone else in this new middle earth tale because TV hasn't been invented and no one has seen "The Matrix." The film is loosely adopted from a true story from the early 1700's one that is often embellished. This one was embellished with dragons, shape shifters, witches, and demons.

Through a series of events the Ako Samurai are stripped of their title and banished, taking on the title of Ronin. Mika is to marry the evil Kira, controlled by a witch as the film turns into "Kill Kira." While history tells us the rest, I won't plot spoil it for you. It isn't how I would have wrote it.

Keanu Reeves barely speaks in this film. He bows his head a lot and stays silent even though he is half Englishman.

This is a good film if one views it as a middle earth fantasy companion and not as a history.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Less brutal, more magical, but a great movie, 17 Dec 2014
By 
This review is from: 47 Ronin (DVD)
I enjoyed this movie. I think they problem a lot of people have with this version is that the brutality of the original tory is massively toned down, to replace they have added the more mystical side of Japanese culture of demons and Tengus. For me this is fine, as the main theme of obedience, honor, and sacrifice are for most in the story.

To accommodate Keanu Reeves' character they had add a bit to the story about his mixed heritage, I personally think this enhances the story rather then detracts from it. Basic story is still the same as the original, but to truly appreciate the movie a person must understand how deep the values of obedience, honor, and sacrifice are embedded into Japanese culture. This is a great movie especially to get younger viewers to understand culture and values portrayed in the movie.
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1.0 out of 5 stars An Insult to the Legend *Commits Seppuku*, 10 Dec 2014
By 
J. Clarke "Alright Sally" (England) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: 47 Ronin [DVD] [2013] [2014] (DVD)
The Revenge of the Forty-Seven Ronin
The true story of the forty-seven ronin details events in eighteenth century Japan, where the leaderless samurai of a feudal lord showed extreme loyalty and persistence in avenging the death of their deceased master. Within one year, they reformed and enacted vengeance on the man, ultimately responsible for their leaders demise. From the very beginning, the ronin knew that whatever the outcome, their futures would hold death, by the fight itself, or as punishment for their acts and so, committed the act of Seppuku - a ritualistic suicide, maintaining their honour and knowing full well the repercussions of their actions. In western society, it may seem to be an almost barbaric act, headstrong and foolhardy, and yet still provided a good sense of meaning to the word honour, not just in Japan but worldwide.

Preconceptions & Misconceptions
Upon first hearing of this films existence (while it was still in development) I rejoiced in the fact that one of the most well known stories in Japanese history was going to get a high budget film - with a Japanese cast instead of making it a cheesy American reenactment. The trailers leading up to the films release however, filled me with worry as to what I was about to witness. One such trailer had a slew of comments worth noting; One viewer claiming it would be offensive to the people of Japan and so on - which myself and a friend believed at the time, was being oversensitive. On a grey note, the film would feature Keanu Reeves - a somewhat flavourless actor as of late (countless unsuccessful films) but such was not my grievance (I approved of his portrayals in A Scanner Darkly & Constantine) - It was the fact his appearance would mean he shall play the part of the hero, as well as the rest of the cast speaking in English - two solid negatives.
Regardless, I couldn't ignore the storyline, or the fact that Hiroyuki Sanada ( The Last Samurai & Sunshine) would be playing the role of true hero 'Oishi' the leader of the ronin.

A Legend Retold
Initially, the film seems well done, with lush historic backdrops and exquisite costume design, worthy of the story. Even the introductory speech about the story conjures up some eagerness. Unfortunately, a love story is manufactured in the shape of one lords daughter, Mika and an unknown child found in the woods, Kai. Things quickly take a desperate dive in the wrong direction when the samurais go on a hunt for a giant mythical beast, followed by various forms of witchcraft. The fact that the writers felt the original tale needed 'revamping' with flashy effects and sorcery is bad enough, but when it actually does little to erase the dullness of the film, you know you've got problems. Antagonist Lord Kira visits Lord Asano and is accompanied by a witch with heterochromia, who in turn grants the ambitions of her new master (for reasons unknown) using sinister unholy methods such as drawing blood to create spiders which possess Asano, forcing him to attack Kira, whilst in the presence of the shogun. Horrified by the actions of host, the shogun commands Asano to commit suicide, for justice and to preserve Asano's honour.

As a consequence of their lords death, the samurai who followed him are now ronin, forbidden to take revenge for any injustices they felt. Outcast and disgraced, they seek to avenge their late master, with the aid of the half-breed Kai. Various side-quests occur involving the ronin and Kai, such as escaping the Dutch slavery ships and reassembling the men, but the craziest escapade they endure is that of the mysterious Tengu forest. Basically Kai and Oishi are tested here - they arrive seeking weapons of great power and leave, their mission accomplished. Now with an arsenal of fine, magical katanas, they squirm their way into Lord Kiras estate and set up an intricate trap to assassinate him, reclaiming their honour in the name of justice.

Differences to the Story
Almost every difference is either unnecessary or plain stupid. The first being the mythical beast hunt, whilst fairly decent CGI, not exactly integral to the plot (it should of been done to establish better character progression and depth). Next is the witchcraft... The sultry actions of Rinko Kikuchi as the witch are quite alluring and in many cases, provide some of the best scenes and dialogue (except when she turns into a dragon, that just sucks), but still can't prevent the film from straight up stinking. You got the 1v1 fight between Reeves and an 10ft metal man who serves no purpose whatsoever. Comedic timing and ronin shenanigans do try though. There's a whole shrine with eagle-faced men in robes 'test' their will, providing swords which admittedly summons a little interest but still aint exactly classy. After that there's the magic show with hilariously bad wigs and some stealthy archery. The presence of the 'half-breed is not the only addition to the plot either as there never was a princess to rescue (or pursue) in the first place!
There's probably a good hour of irrelevant, Hollywood poppycock that keep the film ticking on longer than it should - which by the way is nearly two hours!

Vindications
Not only did the outcast westerner save the day, but he also stole the heart of one of the brightest flowers of japanese stardom, KÅ Shibasaki! (Battle Royale). It is my belief that the writers could not provide a enough quality to the script and dialogue with the historical aspects alone and so, by ditching any seriousness or respect for the story, they threw in magic and demons to appease the mindless masses they seem to think will attend their Christmas time showing. Perhaps it could have been saved with the entire removal of Kai and by toning down a lot of the fantasy elements, instead relying on the obvious talent of the cast which is sadly absent here.
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3.0 out of 5 stars Stylish and interesting, but also slightly odd, 20 July 2014
By 
Albatross "Never argue with idiots" (Suburbia) - See all my reviews
(TOP 1000 REVIEWER)   
This review is from: 47 Ronin (DVD)
’47 Ronin’ is actually based on an old Japanese historical event when 47 samurai avenged the death and disgrace of their master, even if it marked them as ‘criminals.’ This tale is very well known and documented in Japan and people still visit the graves of the deceased in order to remember their commitment to their cause.

It’s been made into a film at least six times before, but this is the most ‘Hollywood’ version to date. For a start, we have Keanu Reeves as the lead character and it’s fair to say that no westerners took part in the actual event. Therefore, it’s safe to say that many liberties have been taken in this retelling. This point is hammered home by the inclusion of various mythological creatures our valiant exiled samurai encounter. And, I’m just guessing, but I’m pretty sure there weren’t any dragon-witches or giant ogres in Japan back then.

So, don’t expect a faithful re-telling of the historical event. But, do expect entertainment. I don’t know why, but ‘The Pirates of the Caribbean’ kept going through my mind while I was watching this. The whole affair sort of reminded me of Captain Jack Sparrow in the Far East. Every so often there’s a chase scene or a monster to fight and there are plenty of CGI backdrops for us to pretend are real. Perhaps the one thing that isn’t really included is an awful lot of fight scenes. I expected more ‘martial arts’ from a film about samurai, but there’s only a couple of swordplay scenes included.

All in all, it’s not a bad adventure film, but it’s kind of hard to think who its primary audience is. Like I said, it doesn’t have enough fights to be a martial arts film. It’s not ‘fun for all the family’ like Pirates of the Caribbean, so it’s more serious. If you like supernatural action/adventure movies which have had all the major gore and adult-stuff edited out, then you might like this. Keanu Reeves is ‘the star,’ but it’s the supporting Japanese cast that really hold it together.

I didn’t regret watching it, but I doubt I’d ever watch it again. I’ve got a hundred better action adventure films already in my collection.
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3.0 out of 5 stars 47 Ronin and 1 Keanu, 16 July 2014
This review is from: 47 Ronin (DVD)
"47 Ronin" is a retelling of a famous Japanese legend which has been updated and specifically adapted for Western audiences. This is especially true in the way it adds in the Keanu Reeves character to the story, a supposedly half American, half Japanese warrior with a mysterious background. I can only imagine that the writers thought that they needed a European character to make the story more sympathetic to Western audiences, but Keanu Reeves does not look any more Japanese than Sean Connery did in "You Only Live Twice".

Despite these changes though the film looks spectacular, especially on Blu Ray, with a very stylized exaggerated version of medieval Japan. The effects and the cinematography are all excellent, and there is some effort made to make the customs and mannerisms of Japan come to life. Fans of films like "Hero" and "House of Flying Daggers" will appreciate the look and feel of this movie, if nothing else.

The main problem with "47 Ronin" is that it fails to draw you into the story or make you care enough about the characters. Most of the ronin are anonymous supporting cast who live and die without making any impression. For those characters who are named as individuals there is nothing to make you sympathetic about their fate. The director can do action, but seems unable to convincingly show human relationships and emotions. In fact the most colourful and likeable character I found was the witch, played by Rinko Kikuchi, who is supposed to be the villain of the piece!

Despite a very good start "47 Ronin" fails to develop into anything very remarkable. Without caring about the characters the ending is a real anti-climax and one which makes it soon forgettable. Its a shame as the movie has a lot of potential but it fails to deliver on the initial build up and while enjoyable in places is far from being a classic of the genre.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars CGI is star of the show., 18 Aug 2014
By 
This review is from: 47 Ronin (DVD)
The Last Samurai meets House of Flying Daggers and falls far short of either. 14 to 25 year old action fans will no doubt love it for the fight scenes, and sensitive viewers may find meaning in Reeves' long stare-into-the-camera close-ups (and there are many) but to me it was just Reeves staring at the camera.
The best part of it was the CGI which varied from so-so to near-perfect. It was so good at times that after I had returned the rental copy I wished I had watched the movie again purely to see what CGI I had actually accepted as real.
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47 Ronin [DVD] [2013] [2014]
47 Ronin [DVD] [2013] [2014] by Carl Rinsch (DVD - 2014)
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